Asher Gellis – Executive Director Gellis is a native Angelino and longtime congregant of Adat Ari El. Gellis’ involvement in Jewish communal work has taken him around the world in many capacities working for the Jewish community centers of Greater Los Angeles, the Bureau of Jewish Education and Hadassah. Prior to joining JQ’s pioneering efforts Gellis was the Regional Director of Hadassah Zionist Youth Commission’s Young Judea programs for California, Nevada and Hawaii. As the Regional Director Gellis was responsible for the staff and volunteers that served the adolescent to young adult demographic with informal education based programs and services.
Gellis’ career with Hadassah afforded him the opportunity to oversee camp accreditations on a national level and as the Director of Health and Well-being, supervise and train staff in Israel for thousands of American students on tour in Europe and Asia. Over 30 chapters were created in Southern California alone under Gellis’ leadership and his programs serviced thousands of children and young adults, their families and the community-at-large.
He earned his BA in Political Science from UCLA and his Masters in Business Administration with an emphasis in leadership from Pepperdine University. Contact Asher Gellis email at [email protected]
Janelle K. Eagle – Founder, 2wice Blessed Project Janelle is an LA-based Entertainment Professional and LGBTQ Jewish activist. She founded the 2wice Blessed Project, for which she was a recipient of the Birthright/Natan Social Entrepreneurship grant. Janelle’s passion for giving voice to marginalized communities began at UC Irvine where she earned a BA in Drama (Honors in Directing) and a minor in Film Studies. She took her love of using the arts for social change with her into a position at the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). At this powerful media advocacy organization, Janelle mastered the skill of using language and moving images to change hearts and minds. Janelle then founded “Off the Path Productions,” which captures stories for a diverse range of non-profit agencies, businesses and individuals with work featured via platforms such as National Geographic, the Jewish Journal and GayTravel.com. Janelle has also worked with the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles as an event producer, grants administrator and program manager, and is an active volunteer for JQ International and Birthright Israel. She has produced several award-winning films and served for two years as the youngest-ever Co-Chair of the Outfest Legacy Awards. Janelle loves marzipan and has an affinity for small dogs.
Lorin Fife, a Valley Village resident, formerly general counsel with financial services holding company SunAmerica, immediately succeeds Cathy Siegel Weiss as Chair of the Jewish Community Foundation. In 1998, Fife retired from SunAmerica to focus on community activities, family and his avocation as an artist. “The Foundation is supported by an extraordinarily talented group of staff and lay people, and it has a terrific array of strengths to offer the community,” Fife said. “In addition to helping The Foundation navigate the current economic environment, I would
like to create an informational system that links donors in funding collaboratives and matches them with nonprofit organizations in their respective areas of interest.”
Fife’s affiliation with The Foundation began more than 13 years ago when he became a trustee. In addition to holding multiple board leadership positions at The Foundation over the past few years, Fife served on the executive committee and board of the Los Angeles Jewish Federation, where he chaired the Federation’s Tel Aviv-Los Angeles Partnership. He is a member of the board of governors of the Jewish Agency for Israel and a past president of Congregation Adat Ari El in Valley Village. Fife has chaired the Los Angeles General Campaign for the Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel, and co-chaired the regents of Camp Ramah in California. He has completed the Wexner Heritage Foundation program, a two-year intensive Jewish learning program for volunteer leaders, designed to enrich their leadership skills.
Established in 1954, the Jewish Community Foundation is the largest manager of charitable assets and the leader in planned giving solutions for Greater Los Angeles Jewish philanthropists. The Foundation currently manages assets of $690 million (as of Dec. 31, 2008) and ranks among the ten largest Los Angeles foundations. In 2008, The Foundation and its nearly 1,200 donors distributed more than $65 million in grants to hundreds of organizations with programs that span the range of philanthropic giving. For more information, please visit www.jewishfoundationla.org
Dean Hansell is an accomplished business, environmental and energy, and insurance trial lawyer. He is a former civil prosecutor in the antitrust, marketing practices, and environmental and energy fields. He also served as a Police Commissioner of Los Angeles for four years.
With his distinguished court record and as a former civil federal and state prosecutor, Mr. Hansell is frequently called upon to assist clients in connection with fraud litigation, investigations, regulatory proceedings, and administrative hearings. He is seasoned in alternative dispute resolution and serves on the Arbitration Committee of the U.S. Council for International Business. Mr. Hansell is frequently called upon to serve as national coordinating counsel supervising litigation nationwide on behalf of several clients or as U.S. counsel in international litigation, and has served as local counsel in complex cases.
Dr. Joel Kushner is the first Director of the Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation (IJSO) at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. The IJSO at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is a unique entity within the Jewish community with its explicit mission of preparing Jewish leadership with the capacity, compassion and skills to change congregational attitudes, policies, and, indeed, Jewish society so as to include each and every Jew, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Dr. Kushner also heads the Jeff Herman Virtual Resource Center (JHVRC) on Sexual Orientation Issues in the Jewish Community.
Dr. Kushner sits on the National Religious Leadership Roundtable of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and on the Advisory Board of the Human Rights Campaign’s Faith and Religion Program. He is the co-editor of a new book, Kulanu: A Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Inclusion Guide for Congregations to be published in April of 2007 by the URJ Press. Dr. Kushner brings a unique educational and profession background to his position. Prior to coming to HUC-JIR, Dr. Kushner worked with both profit and non-profit organizations as a behavioral healthcare consultant focusing on crisis management, performance, training, and policy development. He has a 17-year history of dedication to counseling, training, and education and a passion for cultural issues and diversity. His training includes graduate degrees in counseling and clinical psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University in New York and from the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
Dr. Kushner has a lifelong interest in pastoral care developed originally from coursework at the University of Edinburgh Divinity School, Scotland. He completed an extended unit in CPE at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City and continued in its on-call rotation for another year as a lay chaplain. In the mid 1980s, Dr. Kushner volunteered for GMHC in New York, participating in several of the first AIDS education programs
conducting outreach as well as leading groups focused on education and behavior change. He also volunteered with the Deaf AIDS Project in New York focusing on curriculum design to help bring information to a population that, at that time, had no access to AIDS education.
David Levy - Associate Director at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Jayson Littman – Director of He’Bro Jayson Littman is the founder of He’bro www.myhebro.com, a nightlife and entertainment group that produces and promotes events for the cultural gay Jew living in New York City. Through his involvement in both the gay and Jewish communities, Jayson’s mission is to bridge the identity of gay Jewish life in New York City. Jayson has led and organized LGBT Taglit-Birthright trips and is a founding steering committee member of Out@JNF, the LGBT networking group at the Jewish National Fund.
Jayson is a public speaker, advocate and writer on gay Jewish topics. His writings have appeared in the Huffington Post, Jewish Week, Queerty, among other publications. Jayson was born and raised in the Washington Heights section of New York City and currently resides on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.Kevin Shapiro – Director of Marketing
Mark Meltzer has been the Executive Director/CEO of the Jewish Free Loan Association since 1980. He attended Boston University where he received his Bachelor and Master’s Degrees. He has worked for the Jewish Centers of Greater Boston and the Jewish Family Service of Brookline, Brighton and Newton, Massachusetts. Prior to coming to Los Angeles, he spent eight years working at the Jewish Vocational Service of Boston coordinating several programs, including the vocational rehabilitation program, the Russian Resettlement Program, job skills seminar and English as a Second Language Program.
Since 1980, Mark Meltzer has directed operations and activities of the Jewish Free Loan Association of Los Angeles. He supervises allocation of loans to approximately 1200-1500 loan applicants per year. In addition, he participates as advisor and ex-officio member on all board committees, and is responsible for garnering funding for many of the agency’s major lending programs. He is a consultant to national and international Jewish organizations requiring expertise in émigré transmigration and relocation. He is a founding member and Past President of the International Association of Hebrew Free Loans. He is a Past President/Chair of the Jewish Communal Professionals of Southern California and the Los Angeles Council of Federation and Agency Executives.
Kevin Shapiro – Shapiro, located in Cincinnati, Ohio, was raised in Mexico City and Kobe, Japan, but called Los Angeles home from 2002 through 2008. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration at Georgetown University, during which time he lived at the Jewish Student Association house, planning and organizing Jewish campus events. Kevin spent his spring semester junior year at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, an experience that afforded him time to explore the diversity of Jewish culture, his personal religious convictions and Israeli business environment via an internship with a high tech firm. He is currently working in brand management for a large multinational corporation after obtaining his MBA at the University of Southern California in May 2008. Kevin seeks to fuse his professional experience with his commitment to JQ International in order to optimize the organization’s touchpoints with its key stakeholders and deliver all projects with excellence.